13 Ways Inc. was founded as a company to facilitate success in building communities people want to live in and can prosper within. Doug Griffiths, the founder and chief community builder for 13 Ways Inc. started the company with a passion and commitment to improving the lives of people in small rural communities. Since then our team has expanded to include experts in facilitation, branding and marketing, retail and downtown redesign opportunities, and building intentional healthy communities.
As well, our work has grown from serving local community needs, to North America wide consultations, to now providing advice and services to communities overseas. Our entire team brings all our broad experiences, formal education, and acquired knowledge to bear on each community we serve so we can help them find their own pathway to success.
Growing up on a ranch outside a small community was a great practical education for Doug, giving him a strong work ethic and critical thinking skills. He went on to also acquire an Honours BA Philosophy, followed by a B.Ed., and in 2016 completed the Executive MBA program at the University of Alberta. Education, whether he is learning or teaching, has always been an important aspect of his life. After teaching and ranching for several years, Doug successfully served as an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly in the Province of Alberta for four consecutive terms. In that time, he served in two senior Cabinet portfolios as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Service Alberta, as well as three junior positions in Agriculture, Finance, and Solicitor General.
Doug Griffiths retired from politics in January 2015 to actively pursue his passion of helping communities, organizations and businesses grow stronger. In his best-selling book, 13 Ways to Kill Your Community, Doug identifies challenges and opportunities that all our communities face. The lessons that come from those stories are applicable to all types of communities, whether they are towns, organizations, or businesses. His talents include, seeing through the lies we tell ourselves, overcoming bad attitudes, targeted and focused tactical planning, communicating with those who are afraid of change, and building enduring prosperity for communities. His passion lies in building strong communities, because within strong communities leadership can succeed, businesses can prosper, and families can find a great quality of life.
Heather Thomson is focused on helping people, businesses and communities grow. In her current position as Executive Director of the University of Alberta’s School of Retailing, Heather works with leaders in the retail sector and the commercial real estate sector with an emphasis on education, consulting, academic research, applied research, and industry outreach.
Heather is also part of the leadership team at 13 Ways Inc. Her enthusiasm for communities began while she was with Executive Education at the U of A where she designed and developed a program of study attended by hundreds of municipal leaders who upon completion of the course received a Certificate in Municipal Management and Leadership.
Heather is currently working on her MSc in Organizational Psychology from the University of London. She is also serving on the Old Strathcona Business Association Economic Recovery board and the Edmonton Downtown Business Association Business Recruitment and Retention committee.
Ashley Szakal is a User Experience Expert. She works with communities to enhance their digital presence from branding, to social media and website development. Her focus is to create meaningful experiences through design. Her team of experienced developers, programmers and SEO analysts have developed hundreds of successful website projects in a variety of industries. For the past 4 years, their focus has been on Municipal website design.
Before 13 Ways, Ashley worked as a Marketing & Corporate Image Manager for 10 years. Her work saw her travel across North America, Europe and Asia to develop global digital marketing strategies.
Ashley is passionate about empowering women and girls within her community. In 2018 she received the Leading Women of Ontario award for her work. She is currently on the board of directors of Girls Inc. of York, and volunteers in summer camps to teach school-aged girls to code.
Courtney Borst started with 13Ways as the Operations Manager in June 2019. Courtney was previously working for Executive Education at the University of Alberta starting as a Program Administrator for the Government Portfolio. She then filled a temporary position as Program Advisor in the municipality portfolio, then move to a Program Coordinator for the Public portfolio. A few of Courtney’s clients included the Government of Alberta, The Government of the Northwest Territories, The Tlicho Government, and Alberta Health Services. While filling in for the Advisor position Courtney discovered her curiosity and interest for the municipal world and gladly accepted a position with 13 Ways.
Courtney received her Marketing Diploma from Flemming College in Peterborough Ontario, a certificate for Hospitality Management from The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and finally her Wedding Planner Certificate. Her passion for learning, change and organization has pushed and guided her to new challenges and adventures in her career and personal life.